John Talbot Smith.

Saranac : a story of Lake Champlain online

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be large, Sol, or Dannemora would be opened
for him."

" I swow," said astonished Tuttle. " Wai, that was
a clever move after all ! Praps I'd better hev another
chat with Mr. Stone afore declinin' yer services."

" No, no ; t never took the case, and I could not
think of taking it now. Mr. Stone must get another
lawyer. No charge for what I did for him. The man
will need all the money he can get before he's done
with a fighter like DeLaunay, unless the young lady
does something for him."

" I'm sorry," said Sol, " but he don't ask odds o' no
one; an' I reckon he kin fight with the best ov 'em. I'm
obliged to you, Winthrop, as far as ye went, an' I will
say Amed^e hez made a mistake in givin' up yer ser-

The Texan had icsigned himself to a long stay on
the Point, and the news of his liberation was a sur-
prise to him Within an hour he was ready to take
advantage of his good fortune. The gentleman who
stepped into the boat with Sol was not only respecta-
ble, but distinguished in appearance. A light colored
costume filled out his wasted form, his linen was spot-
less, his gloves neat; the moustache and imperial, the
fever color in his eyes and cheeks helped to conceal
the ravages of dissipation and disease. As the shore


he had not touched in fifteen years sounded under
the boat's keel, and he stepped on it with a proud
firm foot the emotions of his heart nearly overcame

He recognized almost weeping the familiar places
he had once resigned all hope of seeing. How he
blessed the luck, the spirit that had prompted him to
take destiny in his own hands ! The pleasure of this
return was worth a score of years on the frontier. Old
Winthrop saw him land, and after the fashion of
villagers stood inquiring of his memory if they had ever
met before. Atnedee went up to him and said :

" Sol Tuttle tells me you are David Winthrop. I
am Amedee LaR r che. You may remember me."

He spoke with a certain hard frankness, peculiar to
the society of the frontier, and irritating to the society
of Saranac; a trifle defiant and reckless of conse-
quences that might follow the declamation.

" Yes, confound you, I do remember you," said old
David; "you carried away some money of mine, and
spent it in Texas I believe. I have no hard feelings
against you I reckon your friends will make it un-
pleasant enough for you without my help."

" I intend to get ahead there," said Amedee sourly.
" I can make it unpleasant for them beforehand. I
am no thief. I never stole a cent from any man,
and I mean to prove that the money you lost was
never taken by me."

" I wish you could," said Winthrop sighing. " You
don't look like a thief. That's in your favor But it
is not looks, it's documents the courts want, and
sworn testimony, and clever lawyers to make argu-
ments out of straw. If you have nothing but your


looks and words to fall back on, you will be in Danne-
raora before long."

" Wait and see. It is a good beginning, to know
that you have some faith in me. Did you ever hear
the story of my leaving tor Texas."

"No. It must have been interesting. Step in
here to Lemon's, and tell it to me."

The hotel office was vacant and there the story
was told to old Winthrop as once before Amedee
told it in the letter.

" Curious," said the old man, " but not above De-
Launay. Clever rascal. But hold on. This is a
rather dry story. Boy, bring in the favorite, and some

Amede'e began to say he touched nothing, and Sol
to murmur that the pledge

"That's all right," said David, "don't touch
another drop to-day. But I've met you first, and
you must celebrate your happy arrival at my ex-

However, the old man felt some misgivings at see-
ing the hungry grip of the glasses taken by the two
men, who had been abstinent for many weeks.

"Not another drop after this remember," he re-
peated. " Nary a drop," said SoL " Honor bright."

" And here's to your success," said David. " May
you show up the villian who ruined us both, and clear
your name of every stain. I would like to help you,
but I am old, and broken down I am no use ex-
cept to look on at stronger men doing the work. You
have a hard a job to do, and you don't look over
healthy. But I wish you luck. Something may come
of it."


Winthrop went on his way. The two men, more
than elated by the warmth of his recej tion and the
strength of the whisky, posed on the hotel veranda in
high good humor. Amede'e felt at home in his na-
tive town, and enjoyed to the full his position as the
hero of a romantic story soon to be made known to
the world. An old man coming down the street was
pointed out to him as Tim Grady. The latter's eye
was already fixed on the stranger of fine appearance,
and Tim Grady's mind was busy with surmises on the
stranger's occupation.

" Mornin', Tim, said Sol, beamingly.

" Good morning, Mr. Tuttle," said Tim, with dig-

"I am glad to meet you, Mr. Grady," said Ame-
de'e in his lowest, humblest tone, arid he had a voice
and glance of winning sweetness, "and I hope you
will forgive me for my behavior the last time we met.
If I had known you "

" Hould on," said Mr. Grady, " I never to me own
intimate knowledge had the honor o' meetin' you
afore. Yer name, please."

" Amede'e LaRoche," said he still more humbly.

Complex emotion was the destruction of Mr. Grady
at all times. The suddenness of this low-voiced state-
ment fixed the old man to the street as if he had been
turned to stone. A handsome gentleman on the
streets of Saranac was m t to be reconciled with the
drunken vagabond of a Texan village. The trans-
formation had been accomplished without his aid or
knowledge. The prophet had missed the most im-
portant event of twenty years in the history of Sara-
nac. His emotions merged finally into a feeling of


wounded pride, and a chuckle from Mr. Tuttle
brought back his self possession.

" We met at a saloon in Texas," he said sourly,
" an' we meet agin at a Saranac saloon. I think ye
had enough o 1 these places to avoid 'em, Amede'e.
Have ye seen yer mother ?"

" I am just going there," said Amede'e.

" An' have ye seen Mr. DeLaunay?"

" He is willing I shall stay here if I want to."

" Yer all right then, so. Well, I can't say that I'm
overjoyed to meet you, an' I wouldn't for me life take
any stock in yer sobriety an' reg'larity ; but ye look
well, an' I hope ye'll do well, an' take the shame oft
yer dacent father, an' the sorra from yer poor mother.
What are ye goin' to do first ?"

" Nothing," said Amede'e, " first and last."

" That'll suit ye," said Mr. Grady shortly, and he
left his godson without a word of sympathy or good-
will. Amedee felt downcast.

"The man they say I stole from treated me
better than this," he said gloomily.

" You spoiled his speech," chuckled Sol. " He was
cutting a b'g figger out in Texas, and you smashed his
first chance to make a speech, an' his last I reckon.
How kin yer expect him to give you a warm welcome."

Mr. Grady came back again in a moment and took
Amede'e aside.

"I have just wan bit of advice for ye," he said im-
portantly. " Kape from the dhrink. It was the ruin
o' ye from the start, an' it will desthroy ye in'.irely,
now, if ye give way to it."

How much the man profited by it was plain the
next moment, when he and Sol renewed their vows of


friendship over a second dose of whisky at the hotel
bar, and solemnly declared that this was the last drop
to touch their lips that day. In the quiet town
Amede'e made a lively sensation. His fine appear-
ance and easy, often reckless manner were attractive
to the heavy natures of the citizens. He had a good
memory, and recognized acquaintances of his early
youth readily. Passing from one home to another,
and leaving one group of old friends only to gather
another group further on detained him some hours.
Every moment he was starting to his mother's house,
and every moment was delayed. The doses
of whisky were frequently repeated, for Saranac
people are convivial to an extreme degree. Mr. Tut-
tle within two hours had entirely surrendered to his
old enemy, and was now moving about like a water-
logged ship, unable to talk or think or sleep, wearing
a vacant smile for all comers. Amede'e grew brighter
under the influence. Stupidity came to him only after
long perods of hysterical vivacity and insanity. He
lost sight of his danger very speedily, and forgot his
mother altogether. Those whom he had first im-
pressed with his fine manner began to smile early in
the afternoon when his nervousness and Sol's utter
collapse could be contrasted. They were seen for
hours on the streets. John Winthrop met them once,
and bowed very stiffly Sol tried to speak to him but
could only motion with his han 1.

" I am obliged to you," said Amedee smartly, " for
what you have done. I didn't mean to hurt your
feelings by taking my case from you. But I wasn't
satisfied, you know."

" There is nothing to complain of," said John loftily.


He watched them from his office window for an
hour with a pleasant, amused expression on his face,
and he said to himself that things looked fair for Re-
gina's peace of mind in the future. It was while he
was watching the movements of Araede"e and Mr.
Tuttle that the latter collapsed. He sat down for a
moment in a saloon, and gave rousing evidence that
his sleep was not to be broken until the next morn-
ing at the earliest For the rest of this notable day
the man, who had come from Texas to vindicate his
good name before his friends, made his tour alone.

In his ramblings he saw the old church where he
had made his first confession and Communion He
went into the graveyard and read the names on the
new tombstones, many of them his old playmates. He
stood at the church-door and wept, not daring to
enter the holy place ; his tears were of course largely
prompted by alcohol, but the feeling of reverence was
a large part of the man's character. Further down
the street the old school-house stood ; he peered
through its windows and wept again as he thought of
the innocent boy who sat at the desks there twenty
years before. His tears failed him at the back room
of the saloon where his foolishness had early begun to
display itself in gambling and drunkeness. The sight
of it did not please him, but he stopped at the bar
and took several drinks of his favorite liquor with a
few friends. Saranac liquor was mild compared with
the Texas stuff, and so far it had given him only a
touch of recklessness and a repressed desire to raise a
war whoop, and sing a war-song.

The citizens of Saranac at seven o'clock in the
evening were well acquainted with his story and his


extraordinary charges against Mr. DeLaunay. They
studied him with delight, and were half inclined to
believe him, so fine was his appearacce. But this
humor was changing. The innumerable visits to vil
lage bars, and his undoubted sobriety of manner after
swallowing liquor enough to stupefy two hard drinkers,
let loose the spirit of fun. Bets began to be made
on the time necessary to set him drunk. Respect for
him began to wane. His tragic story was bur-
lesqued in dumb sho v by the idlers on the corners.
It was about this time he passed from the sentimental
state into that condition of mania which Mr. Grady
had witnessed in Texas. For the fi r st time thit day
he wandered by the office where DeLaunay had
pointed a revolver at him, and banished him from the
town a thief. The mere recollection of it threw him
into a fury. He would not wait for law or persuasion
or terror to avenge him. He would right all h:s
wrongs on the spot. With this resolution he gave an
Apache war whoop and fired two shots from his re-
volver into the air.

If the main street of the town had heaved
itself into the sky, or disappeared in the lake the villag
ers could not have been more surprised or terrified.
Everyone rushed into the street and rushed back t->
the house again ; for the war-whoop and the firing
continued in a way to suggest an Apache raid on
Saranac with fifty warriors in the band. The single
constable and the idlers rushed to the scene, bravely,
and were scattered like sheep in an instant. Amedee
dashed upon them with whoops and flashing revolv-
ers, and passed up the street like a madman. Doors
an-1 windows were barred before him, citizens dodged

for the nearest shelter, lights went out, fleeing specta-
tors carried word all through the village that a maniac
was killing scores of people on the main street, and
blood was already flowing in the gutters. For a half-
hour the Texan exile owned Saranac. He appeared
so quickly in unexpected points that no one ventured
forth while his weapon could be heard. He was
searching for DeLaunay, but reason had finally de-
serted him. He knew not what he was seeking, but
howled and raged and shot into the air in pure feroc-
ity. The constable had disappeared.

Mr. Tim Gradv, in a remote corner of the village,
was reading the fourth page of his weekly paper he
never reached the eighth until the next number ar-
rived and heard nothing of the disturbance. When
the cries of frightened people hurrying by brought
him to the door he got the common story, and shared
the common dread. The whoops had a familial
sound, however, and suddenly Mr. Grady recognized
the character of the situation. Amede"e LaRoche
was mad. In Texas they lassoed him in this condi-
tion and threw him into a barn. Could not the same
process be tried in Saranac? Mr. Gra3y pondered
a few moments until an idea came to him, then he
took a clothes-line and set forth to capture his god-
son. He was amazed to find the village deserted. In
only one remote residence a light burned. It was
Amedee's home where his mother all unconscious
waited and prayed for him ! A little search unearthed
the constable, and to him Mr. Grady unfolded his
plan Ropes were placed across the pathway, and
concealed men held them with instructions to trip
the desperado when he came that way. The consta-

ble and Mr. Grady with all the others would fall upon
him and bind him.

The Texan walked into the trap, and fell in a
perfect tangle of ropes. Before he could recover
himself every man in the party threw themselves
on Mr. Grady and the constable as they seized
Amedee, and effectively prevented them from
binding him. In fact it became a desperate
struggle on the part of the undermost to save them-
selves from suffocation. Amedee's howls and the
men's curses drowned the constable's orders. The
louder grew the struggle the worse it became for the
men underneath. The almost successful capture be-
came a burlesque. The crowd set upon the constable,
and tried to bind him while Amede"e slipped away in
silence and ran towards the lake with winded Mr.
Grady in hot pursuit. The latter had not breath
enough to call his aids to follow. Seeing the direc-
tion which the fugitive took a great fear seized him
that in his mania Amede"e would drown himself, and
very fervent were his prayers as he stopped short and
turned towards a boat on the lake snore.

He hoped that Amedee hearing no pursuit would turn
from the water ; if not, the boat might serve to save
him from drowning. He had no sooner pushed off
from the shore than the splash of a heavy body falling
into the water was heard. Mr. Grady pulled desper-
ately in the direction of the sound. Amedee made
no secret of his movements ; he swam directly into
the bay and headed for Tuttle's house on the Point.
He had no intention of committing suicide. In a
tew moments Mr. Grady had lost sight of him.
With the hope that he would reach the

other shore safely Tim returned to the
scene of the late encounter, and engaged two men to
row across the bay after the fugitive. The constable
<vas much depressed by his struggle with his own
men. Word was sent around of the fate of the
maniac, and in a few minutes the terrorized popula-
tion were on the streets discussing the great sensa-
tion. It was the common opinion that the madman
was drowned, and if he were not that he deserved it.
But Amed6e was not drowned. The cold plunge
had subdued his mania, but had not restored his
senses. A gentle stupor benumbed his faculties, and
he swam by instinct towards the only light which he
could see from the level of the water. His course
was parallel with the shore towards the railroad
bridge. In a half hour he touched bottom and stum-
bled towards the light. It shone from his mother's
window, from the dolphin lamp that had thus shone
for twenty years. Madame LaRoche had heard
nothing of her son's arrival, and given no heed to the
curious noises on the street. She was alone that
night. The altar was lit, and she was praying fer-
vently before it when the door opened and a haggard,
bedraggled creature staggered in stupidly, stared at
the altar and fell in a heap on the floor. It was thus
Araede LaRoche came home to his mother.



The constable had moulded public opinion in his
own behalf before ten o'clock the next morning ; to
this effect, that all Saranac believed him the hero of the
attack on the maniac, while Tim Grady's name was


barely mentioned. Tim wholly unconscious walked
forth to enquire into the fate of his god son, feeling
that all eyes were upon him As he greeted each
neighbor the smile on his face . invited compliments,
but compliments did not come. The constable saw
him in the distance and avoided him. His admirers
met him and were dumb on his achievement Mr.
Grady was mystified until he heard a man de?cribe
for a stranger the whole episode. In this description
the constable was the only actor.

"A very thrue story," said Tim proudly, "except a
slight mistake in the names. 'Twas I meself that
found Constable Dingy hidin' behind the red store,
afeard of his life to show himself, /med the plan to
catch LaRoche, and / brought down the ropes wii
me own hands. Meanwhile the constable was
chewin' straws in the dark, waitin' for a fair moon.
I put the b'ys in their places an' gev them insthruc-
tions. Ov coorse Dingy helped. Whin Amede"e
sthruck out for the lake I meself pursued him, an'
got a boat to go afther him. Who in the divil med
out that poor odd Dingy did everythin'."

" I reckon I heerd him tellin' it himself to a lot o'
fellows this very morninV' said the man.

" Well, ye heerd him lyin' then," said Tim rudely,
" an' ye can tell him so for me if you meet him afore [

Tim's inquiries proved the constable's diligence.
Nowhere was Mr. Grady connected with the rescue of
the town. He had some trouble in securing his rights
to fame, until it became known that the constable was
earnestly keeping out of his way. Then the efforts of
Mr. Grady to get justice were publicly applauded as


he flew through the streets close upon the heels of
the village official ; but though the latter was often in
view he did not permit Mr. Grady to get near enough
to hail him.

"Id like to nail him now wid his own lies,'' said
Tim, " for to-morrow there won't be anny satisfaction
in it. Dingy is wan o' those dhried-up Vermounters;
he's a fish that ye can eat if ye kill him an' cook him
on the shpot, but wait till mornin' an' ye can't handle

The fish was not killed and cooked that day, but
Mr. Grady recaptured his honors. In addition Tim
condensed and shaped public opinion with regard to
Amede'e. In discussing what was to be done with a
cha r acter so dangerous, many citizens thought this
first display of wild spirits might well be pardoned in
view of a long and hard exile just ended. Tim Grady
disposed of these tender hearts on the spot.

" There's but one thing to be did, ' said he severely.
" He must leave the town and go back to Texas.
They can lasso him out there, an' they have con-
stables able to manage sich divils. Will it hippen
again ? Sure, that's been the way wid him the last
ten years. Every month ov his life he wint dhrinkin',
an' howlin', an' shootin' around Texas jist as he did
last night. He had friends that let him run so far, an'
thin they lassoed him like a steer, an' threw him any.
where till he kem back to his senses. If ye let. him
sthay in Saranac ye must hire a lassoer, an' be ready
to pay damages for the harm he does."

In a few hours the Saranac fathers came to Tim's
conclusions. Oat of respect for the Captain his father,
in consideration of his long exile, nothing was to be


done against Amede'e ; but he was to leave the town
at once and forever. Tim was chosen to announce
the sentence, an office which vindicated him before
the LaRoches for the hard opinions he had often
expressed on Amede'e. No one spoke of AmedeVs
innocence, or of his charges against DeLaunay. Even
ill-minded David Winthrop could only shake his head
in disgust when it cime to connecting innocence with
such a savage. Tne man in drink was capable of any
crime. This sentiment became universal. Ano her
grew up beside it which no one could account for, if
an accounting had been asked : Mr. DeLaunay was
an honorable and much slandered man, and it was a
great pity that a desperado should have been allowed
even for an hour to go about the village streets de-
nouncing a most eloquent and irfluential citizen as a
thief John Winthrop had deftly set this sentiment
afloat, and laughed to see its sudden popularity.

^hen Tim went down at noon to warn the Texan
of the feeling in the town he found the Captain and
Madame in a tremulous state over the poor drunkard
sleepirg off the effects of his debauch in the next
room. They did not yet know the full gravity of his
case, and when Tim made it known the old dogged
spirit arose in the Captain's breast.

" I kin stan' a lawsuit, Grady," he said sourly,
" 's well 's the next. Thief or not, my son stays in
Saranac with his mother, d'ye hear ? She won't let
him go."

Mr. Grady described the terror of the villagers the
night previous, and reminded him that this madness
was one ot Amedee's most frequent tricks.

"It's aisy enough to fight the town," said Tim,


" but kin ye stand the expense ? If ye go bail for
that b'y, ye'll be med to pay for every single thing he
smashes. It takes him only tin minutes to desthroy
a bar worth a fortune. He carries revolvers. He
jumps on people. What'll ye be worth if ye go on
his bond to keep the peace? Five hundred dollars
every time, an' the coort wont spare ye. I pity the
mother, but what kin ye do other than send him
away ?''

The money question staggered LaRoche, and re-
moved the whole case from the region of sentiment.
Bethought it over some hours, and could see no way
to combine paternal pride and financial interest.
John Winthrop met him, and mentioned a point
which had been overlooked.

" I'm glad your boy is at home aga : n," said the
suave lawyer ; " I want to warn you, though, that he
means to make trouble. He has been talking through
the town about Mr. DeLaunay, and the gentleman
must be very angry over it. I am told that you were
paid a nice sum to keep the boy in order. If you
don't do it, and if your son bothers DeLaunay you
will be asked to give back that money. Your son is
to be put in bonds to keen the peace, and you will be
the bondsman. How often can you stand being bled
like that, when he goes on a spree, and DeLaunay
will certainly ask y0u for the money he gave you. I
tell you this in secret. I have no business to inter-
fere in the matter at all Please don't mention my
name for giving you this hint, which is worth some-
thing to you."

LaRoche thanked him very heartily. He went away
in a rage. As before when he sought to do something


for his son the whole world and his own interest
seemed to rise against him. This time his son alone
was to blame. Had he come home like a man, not a
maniac, there had been some hope for him. Now, to
raise a hand in his behalf meant the loss of much
money, so much that the pilot grew afraid of Amedee's
remaining a day longer in Saranac. He went home
in a panic. In a few hours he must be on duty and
would not return to Saranac for two days. He had to
protect himself against danger during that time, and
the plan which presented itself to him was that Ama-
dee shou'd go back to Sol Tuttle, or accompany him-
self that night to Whitehall.

Amedee was up when he returned, quite sober, and
dressed as neatly as on the day previous. His hea^y
eyes and worn face had lost their freshness, and the
wetting had taken the gentility from his garments, but
his smile was bright for his father.

A ten minutes' talk with his boy shook the Cap-

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Online LibraryJohn Talbot SmithSaranac : a story of Lake Champlain → online text (page 10 of 18)